Submitted by Brenda Duke

Not many people know that April is National Volunteer Month. I, for one, think that it is important that we honor the people who dedicate themselves to taking action and solving problems in our communities. And there are a lot of them. The donated time and expertise has a value and an economic impact.

One of the greatest aspects of volunteerism is that there are so many different ways to do it, and sometimes, we volunteer without even making conscious recognition of it. For example, helping out at church or coaching your child in soccer. Sometimes we can only fit in one day and we serve food at the local soup kitchen or clean up the local park. These acts all deserve to be applauded.  It’s time to say thank you to every person that gives back to their community in their own way.

The first National Volunteer Month was created in 1974. Since 1989, the number of people who volunteer has increased by 60 percent. Not only has the amount of volunteerism increased, but the impact of volunteerism is increasing as well. Meaningful volunteer activities, as well as long-term, skills-based volunteerism is becoming more popular.

So as we celebrate Volunteer Month, let’s recognize those who give of themselves to help others. Let’s motivate others to join the effort. And let’s stay focused on how volunteerism can continue to evolve to bring maximum value to our communities.

Special thanks to volunteer Ken Hirter who collected these stories and photographs.